Can I teach you Everything I Know?

Everything I know

Many years ago I remem­ber teach­ing a class where one attendee asked “are you going to teach us everything you know?” Can I teach you everything I know? There is quite a question.

I didn’t think much about it at the time but do recall my response was less than satis­fact­ory, causing me to think about that question much over the years. I am currently prepar­ing a course for a client and of course the question about teach­ing everything I know keeps rebound­ing in my brain. Teaching everything I know is quite a challenge. I have often asked myself wheth­er it is possible. What do you think?


Is it Possible to Teach Everything I Know?

choices-to-be-madeThe answer is surely a simple “no!” There are very good reasons the answer is no. To learn everything I know you must have:

  • Similar exper­i­ences.
  • Almost identic­al knowledge.
  • The same approach to work.
  • Similar hopes and dreams; and
  • probably worked for the same organ­isa­tions I did.

It is surely impossible for you to know everything I do, or have exper­i­enced the same things. Besides, I will learn something from the exper­i­ence of teach­ing you. Every person will learn accord­ing to their past exper­i­ences. Two people learn­ing the same mater­i­al will assim­il­ate it very differ­ently.


Different Experiences, Different Goals, Common Ground

The fact that two people have differ­ent exper­i­ences, differ­ent desires etc. means that they will approach a common problem in a slightly differ­ent way. There are few things we do in life where there is only one method to get the job done, it is like opening a door — the handle can be on the left or the right side. It may be twisted left or right. Each works well, but sometimes the right opening doorway is simply wrong as it blocks the path for its user.

Logic and discussionWith most processes we perform there are more than two ways to achieve the same result. Mary’s prefer­ence for method A is no more or less valid than John’s prefer­ence for method B. Because Mary and John perform the same action differ­ently they have differ­ent exper­i­ences however they will achieve the same result. Their logic for each course of action cannot be faulted either.

Because of these slight differ­ences in approach it is clearly diffi­cult for me to teach you everything I know because you will approach specif­ic problems differ­ently than I do. This is true even though we are working on common goals.


Time/Space Conquers All

It stands to reason that it will take both time and space to teach everything I know. When writing an article with 1,000 words it stands to reason that I cannot put everything I know about even the most precise subject into that single contri­bu­tion. The same would be true even for 10,000, or even 500,000 words to put it all into writing or even two hundred years in which to teach it.

The same can be true of time. In bygone days when a master would take on a student and teach them over their lifetime they could still not impart all their knowledge. This was so for Plato and the things he learned from Socrates, or what Plato passed on to his pupils through his life. Plato would have also learned independ­ent of his master.

People live finite lives which of course makes it impossible for me to teach anyone everything I know.



Buy Peter B. Giblett a coffee as thanks for looking at the question of teach­ing everything I know.. Images included here are from royalty free public domain image collec­tions, photo­graphs from Pixabay, cartoons are courtesy Green Street.

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